VA HEALTH CARE

Limit benefits? Perhaps, then, peace is upon us

The May 17 letter writer who suggests that the way to improve VA services is to deny medical benefits to those “with a mere two years of service (or less)” must be referring to those of us who were drafted into involuntary military servitude during the Vietnam War and managed to survive it (relatively) unscathed.

I realize that I’m not in this undeserving group, since I suffered enough hearing loss from gunfire during my two years to be rated for VA disability benefits. But I would like to note the salutary implications of the writer’s suggestion: Our war efforts must be winding down.

History has shown repeatedly that support for military benefits is the greatest when war is the hottest. When the conflict subsides it is inevitably followed by calls for “serious review” of the promises made to those who put their lives on the line.

Who knows? Maybe peace is coming.

David Hawley, Edina

• • •

It is hard for me to hear of fellow veterans dying while waiting to be treated. It is also hard to hear of VA employees manipulating waiting list times to cover up the problem. What is worse is to hear members of Congress dumping the blame on them. I don’t wish to indicate that these employees have no fault, but I want to point out that the problem didn’t originate with the employees, but rather with the refusal of Congress to properly fund Veterans Affairs so that it might have the staff, equipment and facilities to meet the needs of our veterans. For those who may not know, the VA — like all government agencies — only has the resources that Congress grants it.

If members of Congress truly want to correct the problem, I suggest they stop having hearings berating VA administrators and get to the work of fulfilling their own responsibility.

Ed Janes, Eden Prairie

 

‘LIMITED GOVERNMENT’

Refinements are just that — not failure

Craig Westover’s commentary “Limited government — as a principle, not pandering” offers a skewed view of legislative efforts.

Redefining those forced into sex trafficking as victims is an attempt to change existing laws to better address a criminal enterprise and the casualties it causes. It is an example of making laws more practical and responsive.

Gradual loosening of food vendor restrictions is an effort to promote expansion of those services, while preserving a level of standards that define food quality, storage and preparation to ensure public health.

Carefully monitoring and restricting the use of marijuana for medical purposes is entirely reasonable when balanced against how little we know about its benefits as well as the significant dangers the drug presents.

Such examples do not represent reversals of governmental overreach but rather a refinement of laws and regulations designed to fulfill our government’s mandate to protect and serve.

Ken Vaselaar, Isanti, Minn.

 

CHARTER SCHOOLS

It’s not segregation if it’s a choice for quality

The notion that charter schools are the cause of “new” school segregation (“Back to the ’50s …,” May 16) is wrong and disingenuous. Charter schools are used by poor parents of minority children to escape failing public schools, not as a government tool for racial segregation. These conscientious and desperate parents have no alternative except charter schools if they want the best educational option for the success of their children. This is primarily due to the political power of the teachers union, whose principal interests are for enhanced financial benefits of their members, not the children. Until the political class puts student benefits over vested special interests, the flight to charter schools should and will continue.

David Teicher, Plymouth

 

CAMPAIGN FINANCE

Why political speech is allowed anonymity

A May 18 letter writer asks why people who donate to political causes would want their donations to be anonymous. Shouldn’t everyone be glad to pay for the courage of their convictions?

By that reasoning, there is no reason for our votes to be anonymous — ballots should be public record. And employers ought to be able to ask job applicants what political party they belong to.

The reason that political speech should be private is that otherwise, currently unpopular views are squelched at best and punished at worst. The tyranny of the majority always seems like a good idea to the majority. The problem is that such a system destroys new and progressive ideas before they can spread.

Catherine Walker, Minneapolis

 

NICOLLET MALL

Won’t be peaceful as long as there are buses

The promise of a peaceful new Nicollet Mall with a “woodsy” feel, as outlined in a proposed redesign (“Nicollet Mall, reborn,” May 16) is undercut by one all-important aspect: Buses will remain on the mall. There’s nothing peaceful about the roar of back-to-back buses, just as there’s nothing appetizing about dining amid the perfume of exhaust. As long as planners insist on the mall’s remaining a transit zone, it will never approach the big-city pedestrian thoroughfares they hope to emulate, like the High Line in Manhattan, their attraction being the very absence of traffic and noise.

Why settle for the half-measure of prettified bus stops, when you can give people, at least for a few blocks, something much more rare and pleasurable: a place just for them?

Tim Gihring, Minneapolis